While most Americans were following the latest twists and turns in the election last week, some excellent economic news flew under the radar.
On the state front, the number of Louisianans filing for unemployment continued its swift decline, with just over 7,700 individuals filing the week ending October 31. This is still about four times higher than the normal rate, however, it marks only the second time claims have been under 10,000 since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Additionally, the number of Louisianans filing for unemployment for the first time also decreased by 50 percent over the last month.
With fewer Louisiana citizens filing for unemployment, it’s fitting that the number of those on unemployment insurance has also decreased dramatically. A little more than 105,000 were collecting unemployment benefits during the week ending October 24. If this trend continues, we’ll soon have less than 100,000 Louisianans collecting benefits for the first time since late March.
With good news in Louisiana, it’s also unsurprising that the national job market is moving in a similar positive direction. The unemployment rate dropped a whole point to 6.9 percent, while the number of employed Americans increased by 2.2 million. The sector experiencing the largest increase in employment was leisure and hospitality which added 271,000 jobs. Meanwhile, professional business services added 208,000 jobs, and retail trade followed with 103,700 jobs added. The uptick in the leisure and hospitality sector is especially important for the struggling New Orleans economy.
It’s clear that the hundreds of thousands of Americans we’re seeing go back to work is due to government’s relaxing of restrictions on businesses. However, as Louisiana and many other states are seeing a spike in cases, governors are, again, turning to the possibility of yet another lockdown. If America and Louisiana can continue on its current path, these positive economic trends will continue. If not, it may be a dark winter for many.